Vineyards Archive

How to Plan Your Dream Vineyard

As evidenced by the many wineries that dot the area, the land in central Virginia has great potential for farming wine grapes. Virginia Wine writes on their website that “The eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge and the rolling countryside to the east offer excellent topography, fertile granite-based clay soil and a growing season of over 200 days.” There are 72 vineyards and wineries in this area alone. Yet ample land for sale in central Virginia simply awaits the establishment of the next great vineyard. At 726 square miles, Albemarle County is just a bit short of Napa Valley’s 748 square miles, which is home to over 500 wineries.

So if you’ve ever dreamt of starting your own vineyard in central Virginia, you’re in luck. This year the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) released a Vineyard Financial Calculator. The VCE writes, “This tool’s intended user is an individual or organization exploring the financial requirements of vineyard establishment and operation in Virginia.” This very helpful tool, created by Tremain Hatch, Peter Callan, and Tony Wolf, is exactly what you need to calculate the expenses involved in establishing a vineyard in central Virginia.

How It Works

The Excel spreadsheet contains a “Calculator” tab that prompts the user to input information specific to their business plan, such as the number of planted acres, the width of the rows of grape vines, the crop produced per foot, the hours of labor per acre, and the cost of capital. The spreadsheet is already equipped with formulas which will then calculate your cash flow. Within the “Trellis” tab you can calculate the cost of installing a trellis and fencing to protect your crop from wildlife, such as deer. Don’t know what equipment you’ll need? No problem. In the “Equipment” tab you’ll find an informative table with detailed information regarding equipment necessary to maintain a vineyard. Here you will need to again consider the size vineyard you’re imagining. Then decide on the appropriate equipment for your intended acreage and enter the corresponding pricing in the prepared calculator. The “hours of use” graph at the bottom of the page helps estimate the expected lifespan of your equipment. The carefully crafted formulas will then calculate both your capital expenditures for equipment and your annual fixed cost for equipment based on industry standards of maintenance and wear and tear.

Finally, once you’ve outlined your dream vineyard, tailoring the tool to work for you, you have the satisfaction of seeing how your vineyard will turn out. The “Budget” tab includes fields linked to information you have entered in other tabs and calculates your revenue and cash flow. The “Net Present Value” tab peers ahead into the future and calculates when you would begin to see a profit. And the “Sensitivity Analysis” tab illustrates how your profit might vary based on fluctuations in crop yield and price.

If you’ve long dreamed of owning a vineyard in central Virginia, now you have the means to begin seriously planning the logistics. And when you’re ready to consider properties in the area where you might like to establish your dream and plant those first few seeds, contact Gayle Harvey Real Estate and we’ll be happy to help.

To learn more about what is entailed in establishing a winery in central Virginia, read our blog post here. For information on business license requirements in central Virginia, click here.